Saturday, November 28, 2009

Where's The Shooter?

When you hold a team, any team, below 30% shooting from the field, foul out 3 of their top 4 frontcourt players, and hold the other, a potential NBA Lottery pick, to 6 points on 2-12 shooting, you shouldn't just win a college basketball game, you should fucking dominate it.  The only way you wouldn't win a game like that is if your team can't knock a shot down to save themselves and can't rebound against a team against which you have comparable size and much better athleticism, and that's exactly what happened to the Huskies last night.

After three lackluster performances against shitty teams to open the season, it looked like UConn had finally put all the pieces together on Wednesday night when they steamrolled through LSU.  They rebounded aggressively, giving the Tigers no second chances, ran their offense, and knocked down shots, both inside and out.  To say last night was UConn taking a step back would be like saying the US deficit is a few bucks short right now.  The Huskies were flat-out awful, getting out-rebounded 56-43 by a Duke team who Doug Gottleib called "alarmingly non-athletic" after a WIN Wednesday night against Arizona St.  25 of those rebounds were of the offensive variety, giving Duke enough second chance points and trips to the free throw line to override their horrible shooting night.  When Brian Zoubek, a guy who is practically a zombie straight out of the George Romero playbook, and Lance Thomas, the slowest, weakest, most unathletic black guy this side of Curt Menefee, each grab 11 rebounds against you, then you know there's a big problem in the middle.  And that problem's name is Charles Okwandu.

Seriously, what the fuck is he doing out there?  And more importantly, why the fuck is Calhoun playing this guy?  He is terrible.  I must have been higher than Jerome Dyson at Spring Weekend when I called Okwandu an "intriguing possibility" 2 weeks ago in my season preview column because the only thing intriguing about him is how he managed to secure a basketball scholarship when he possesses absolutely no basketball skills.  I wouldn't pick him to play on my team in a playground 3-on-3 game at an elementary school.  The dude can't stay with his man, has no clue how to play pick-and-roll defense, gets abused in the low post by players smaller and lighter than he is, is never in good rebounding position, and even when he is, he goes up softly with one hand to try to tap the ball back to himself instead of aggressively grabbing it with 2 hands.  I'm not even going to waste time breakding down all the holes in his offensive game because quite frankly, he has no offensive skills on which to comment.

I know Calhoun likes to have size, but Jesus Christ, I'd rather take my chances with AO and Gavin, or go small with AO, Sticks, and Jamal than let Okwandu go out there and basically have the Huskies playing 4-on-5.  If I had the money, I would bail out the kid who killed Jasper Howard just so he could go back to the Student Union and shank Charles Okwandu.  And I'm only half-joking when I say that.

Speaking of Sticks, where the fuck was he last night?  Was that even him wearing the 21 jersey or was he back at the scrap metal yard?  4 rebounds against Duke's front line?  FUCKING 4???  I know he got frozen out on the offensive end of the floor in the 2nd half worse than Michael Jordan in his first All-Star Game, but that's still no reason to be so passive on the boards against a team that he can run and jump circles around.  Come on, Stanley, you're a fucking senior!  You're the one that needs to take the reins against the Dukes and Villanovas of the world and lead the team, not sulk and get lost in the shuffle because you aren't getting touches on the offensive end.

As bad as the whole rebounding thing was, I could look past it if the Huskies could have made a few shots, just a few.  But offensively they looked 20 times worse than they did defensively.  When the fuck is somebody going to step up and knock down a jump shot??  The Huskies made 2 for the whole game last night, and one of those was by Gavin Edwards!  The offense last night was basically dribbling or passing around the perimeter for 20-25 seconds and then having either Kemba or Jerome go flying towards the basket and throw up a forced off-balance runner or weak layup, trying more to get a foul call than to actually make the shot.

There was no ball movement around the wing to try to get somebody an open jumper, and when they did get one, whoever had the open look either missed it or didn't take it.  Jerome was 6-20 from the field last night and Kemba was 4-12.  Nobody wants to shoot on this team because nobody fucking can.  It's an embarrassment to the program and to the sport to have a bunch of scholarship guards and wing players who can't knock down a 15-footer or an open 3, and a bunch of scholarship big men whose collective post-up game resembles that of a middle school girl.

And if you're going to forego ball movement and open shots for trying to draw fouls, at least make your fucking free throws.  For all the good players that have come and gone over the last half decade, one thing Jimbo never seems to recruit is guys who can make foul shots.  It was a problem 2 years ago, it was a problem last year, and it's already a problem this year.  15-28 from the line just ain't gonna cut it against good team, especially when the majority of the misses are coming from your main guys (Oriakhi 2-4, Dyson 3-9, Walker 1-2, Sticks 0-1).  Shooting 50% from the line negated all the good they did in getting Duke's entire front line in foul trouble. Despite the fact that they had foul issues, Duke continued to play aggressive defense because they knew UConn wasn't going to take advantage of the opportunities at the line.  The only dude out there with any hair on his nuts when it comes to the charity stripe seems to be Gavin Edwards (I can't believe I just fucking wrote that!), who made all 6 of his attempts last night. 

There were a few bright spots last night.  AO was tough on D and on the boards with 13, but still needs to learn that this isn't high school ball anymore and he can't bring the ball down when he's making a post move or trying to shoot.  And Gavin Edwards played another decent game coming off the bench, with 12 points and 5 boards (again, I can't believe I just fucking wrote that).  But UConn's Big 3 stumbled and bumbled all night on both ends of the floor, and in a game that the stats say they should have won, it was that lack of composure and leadership on their part that cost the team the game.

Jimbo needs to start getting on Stanley, JD, and Kemba now to grow up and lead the team, and he needs to take the training wheels off of Coombs-McDaniel, Trice, and Darius Smith, and see if these fucking kids can play and make a shot because if he's counting on Gavin Edwards and Alex Oriakhi to lead the charge heading into Big East play, it's going to be a long year.

And somebody, for the love of God, give Okwandu H1N1 or mono, or anything to keep him off the floor.